Essential to industrial enterprise, mechanical engineering is versatile and continuously evolving. Mechanical engineers use their knowledge of design, energy and materials to ensure that objects function more efficiently to conserve resources.
Josh Spitza ’09 knows a thing or two about heavy-lifting. The mechanical engineering alumnus has spent the past two years working on a 900-ton capacity rubber tire gantry crane for the U.S. Military.
“It’s diesel-hydraulic and one of the top five largest capacity rubber gantry cranes in the world,” Spitza said.
As senior mechanical lead project engineer for Konecranes Nuclear Equipment and Services LLC, based in New Berlin, Wisconsin, Spitza has been involved in a variety of projects from small to very large overhead bridge travelling electric cranes, wood yard and shipyard portal cranes, gantry and jib cranes.
“My division specializes in critical applications in the nuclear energy industry and other energy industries and Department of Defense contracts,” Spitza said. “We do everything from concept to production and commissioning—mostly custom applications.”
One of the unique projects Spitza has worked on was a vertical cask transporter. “It’s a special machine that transports nuclear fuel in large concrete and lead reinforced cannisters from spent nuclear fuel pools to their final storage facility,” he said. Essentially a rubber tire crane, the capacity of the transporter was in the 200-ton range.
“I’ve also designed cranes for backup generator systems,” he said. “These overhead electric cranes are critical for the diesel engines that are used to power backup pumps and cooling systems. The most recent generator room crane was 25 metric tons.”
His most recent project for the U.S. Military has recently come to an end, with the gantry crane heading to New Mexico. Although building a 900-ton crane might sound like a challenging project, Spitza noted it’s not the only obstacle engineers face.
“The most challenging aspect is establishing a work-life balance,” he said. “It’s easy to slip into a pure work mentality—especially if you enjoy what you do. Finding a balance is key to all aspects of health and well-being. And that includes students who spend their days and night studying and working on projects at MSOE.”
To establish his own work-life balance, Spitza makes it a point to leave work at work and spend ample time with his wife, Danielle (Seefurth) '08 NU, and their three daughters: Ryann, 9; Cameron, 6, and Avery, 4.
“It’s important to leave the stresses of your profession when the day is done, and not bring them home with you,” he said. “I also spend time with family whenever I can, take vacations when it’s nice outside, and maximize time off by using vacation days to make long weekends. Last, you can’t forget about having fun both at work and at home. You can’t take life too seriously all the time.”